From Law to Digital Product Management

“If you really feel stuck... don't wait too long to make the move.”

Image of Marc Abraham
From Law to Digital Product Management

Marc Abraham's MBA was a great opportunity to grow – except he felt his new skill set was wasted in his current career. So, with a nudge from his wife, he began to experiment. Here's how he tapped into his network, built up his experience, and finally settled into a new niche.

What work were you doing previously?

I started my professional career as a corporate lawyer, based in Amsterdam and working on mergers and acquisitions.

I then came to the UK to do an MBA, after which I worked in marketing and business development at a large accounting firm.

What are you doing now?

I'm heading a seven-person digital product management team at a London-based online foreign exchange platform.

Why did you change?

I moved away from law because I felt that I couldn't apply a lot of the knowledge I'd acquired during my MBA.

I didn't want all the new skills and knowledge I'd learned to go to waste.

I was also keen to get into the digital sector, first as a project manager, since I was excited about working on digital applications and experiences.

When was the moment you decided to make the change?

When I was working as a marketing & business professional, but still in a professional service environment, I decided that professional services wasn't the right environment for me.

It wasn't particularly creative or innovative. It was time for a change.

How did you choose your new career?

My wife inspired me to think about finding a job in the digital space.

She'd been working in this space for a long time and believed it would be a better fit for me.

So, I started to explore it for myself.

Are you happy with the change?

Absolutely!

Sometimes I find myself reflecting on my time as a lawyer. It feels so far removed from what I'm doing these days!

From the moment I became a product manager, about six years ago now, I felt that I had really found my niche.

What do you miss and what don't you miss?

The only thing that I sometimes miss about not being a lawyer is the very specific, analytical way of thinking that I used to have to apply as part of my day job.

How did you go about making the shift?

I started by talking to people working in the digital space and doing pro-bono work, to grow my network, demonstrate my value and learn about digital products.

In tandem, I started going to relevant events to learn from experts on topics such as user experience and new technologies, to both learn and network.

What didn't go well? What wrong turns did you take?

During the pro-bono work I did to begin with, some of the companies that I worked with were more appreciative than others.

But that was fine. I was just very grateful to get the opportunity to work on digital products and experiences!

How did you handle your finances to make your shift possible?

I worked pro-bono in the evenings and weekends, which allowed me to keep my day job, while working towards my next move at the same time.

What was the most difficult thing about changing?

Learning all this new stuff, and having to start from scratch.

I had to understand new terminology and new ways of working, as well the bigger picture.

What help did you get?  

There've been a number of different people over the years whom I'd either consider as mentors or who introduced me to great people or businesses.

What resources would you recommend to others?

Internal: self confidence – you're likely to need it, as you'll most probably get rejected a lot when you're looking to change careers. Understanding the reason behind a 'no' and using it to your advantage as you continue to pursue your career change is crucial.

External: a mentor – see if you can find someone who's got good experience in a role or sector that you want to move to. This person can act as a valuable sounding board and help you along your journey.

What have you learnt in the process?

Not to give up!

What would you advise others to do in the same situation?

If you really feel stuck in your current career or environment, please don't wait too long to make the move.

You'll hear a lot of voices – both your own and others' – advising against a shift, but follow your heart and remember that life is short!

To read Marc's articles on tech and business, visit www.marcabraham.com.

What lessons could you take from Marc's story to use in your own career change? Let us know in the comments below.

Plus, if you know someone who's made a successful shift into work they love, we'd love to hear from you. Drop us a line at hello@careershifters.org. and you could win a £25 / $35 Amazon voucher in our monthly draw.